Non-Pharmaceutical Alternatives for Chronic Pain Management
The June 2019 issue of Consumer Reports cover story is, “Real Pain Relief, Now!” The article addresses how non-pharmaceutical alternatives are gaining favor with the medical community and patients.
The magazine spoke with Daniel Clauw, M.D., director of the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center at the University of Michigan Medical School. Thoughts from Lisa Mandl, M.D., an assistant research professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, are also included in the article.
Dr. Clauw explains that pain is an alert from the brain, that something needs attention. Clauw explains how medical treatment helps the body heal while other approaches are necessary to help identify and change things that can worsen pain.
In a 2017 JAMA review, Dr. Clauw outlined an approach to treating chronic pain primarily with therapies other than surgery and medication. The JAMA review focused on counseling, mindfulness and meditation, hands-on therapies, and exercise.
Finding Proper Care
The Consumer Reports article recognizes that it can be a challenge for patients to find the proper care that is also covered by insurance. Fortunately, many states are now encouraging insurance companies to cover more non-drug treatment options. In addition, medical professionals are beginning to focus on noninvasive and non-opioid treatment options for their patients.
In 2017, the American College of Physicians, which represents primary care doctors, issued guidelines for treating back pain. It recommends non-drug measures as the first option for the treatment of low back pain.
Dr. Clauw explains that alternative approaches to treating pain such as yoga and acupuncture can offer modest relief. However, research finds a combination of non-drug therapies can be more effective than a single treatment method.
The article explains that a good night’s rest, while also incorporating movement into the patient’s daily routine can help overcome chronic pain. Massage, for instance, helps treat chronic back pain and fibromyalgia. Alternative treatments such as supplements, topical pain relievers, as well as over-the-counter and prescription drugs, help reduce pain.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is considered the “gold standard” of psychological treatment of chronic pain. CBT can help patients learn to identify thought patterns and behaviors that worsen pain. By replacing negative thoughts with new thoughts, a patient can help calm their nervous system and help relieve pain. Another benefit of CBT is that sessions are generally covered by insurance and the sessions can be in person, online, or over the phone.
All in Your Head
A supplemental article in the June Consumer Reports, “All in Your Head’? Getting Care for Untreated Pain,” addresses how many physicians tend to discriminate, whether unconsciously or not, against women and minorities more than they do men when it comes to pain. The article points out how important it is for patients to get their physician to listen to them.
Penney Cowan, founder, and CEO of the American Chronic Pain Association, says, “Pain tends to take away our sense of self-esteem.”
Novus Spine & Pain Center
The Novus Spine & Pain Center is in Lakeland, Florida, and specializes in treating chronic pain. We encourage our patients to be active participants in their treatment. By using a comprehensive approach and cutting-edge therapies, we work together with patients to restore function and regain an active lifestyle, while minimizing the need for opiates.
Our Mission Statement:To provide the best quality of life to people suffering from pain, by providing state of the art treatments, knowledge and skill, compassion, and respect for all.